While in Cooktown we had to visit the James Cook Museum. It was a must-see on our list. I’d read that it was one of the best small museums in Queensland, so I was really looking forward to it. So much history to take in here! The museum is in an old convent built in the late 1800s. Part of the museum is dedicated to the history of the convent. I wish I had a picture of the staircases inside. There was a sign with a quote from a former student talking about how only the nuns were allowed to use the main staircase. There was a very narrow spiral staircase for the children. It was the narrowest spiral staircase I’ve ever seen, and very steep as well. We had an extra child along with us that day, which totally threw off my whole navigate-the-museum-with-kids game. It was much harder to wrangle the kids with another one thrown into the mix! She was a friend they’d made at the caravan park. Another reference to the Queen’s visit in 1970! She opened this museum, who knew? They gave us a list of things to find, like a scavenger hunt, and this was the first thing on the list. After visiting the mint in Canberra we love to see coins on display. They actually had quite a collection at the museum, many older coins from before Australia had their own money, but I only have a picture of the more recent ones. Lots to see! This was a model of the Endeavour. Or a ‘boap’ as TurboBug calls it. The actual tree that the ship was moored to. Interesting, isn’t it? When the Endeavour left I wonder how long it was before the next visitors came to this area who would have cared enough to mark which tree it was. In 1971 they found the Endeavour’s anchor. What history! Captain Cook spent about seven weeks here while the ship was being repaired after hitting the reef. Some quotes about Captain Cook. The children’s rhyme at the end is the best…
Captain Cook chased a chook
All around Australia
Lost his pants in the middle of France
And found them in Tasmania.
Upstairs I found a map of Aboriginal Australia- showing tribes/language groups and regions. Here’s a map of just Cape York. Look how many different groups! I loved this sign with the story of Captain Cook’s landing from the Aboriginal point of view. They’d seen visitors before ‘But they were transients. They did not intend to stay.’ They saw the ‘strange large canoe’ and ‘considered that these boat people like others who came and went would not cause problems.’ I don’t know what the story was with these canoes, but aren’t they cool? Upstairs they had heaps of things on display. See those drawers at the back of this picture, off to the right? Each drawer contained items, and they had drawers like this all over the place. So much to look at. Yeah, yeah, there’s a boat behind me. But did you see my cool truck? That’s what you want the picture of, right? You could go out on the balcony and look out to the river. By this time the kids were pretty much over the whole museum thing. One last quick run-through downstairs and I found this diary entry describing Captain Cook’s first sighting of the kangaroo, ‘the full size of a greyhound and shaped in every respect like one, with a long tail which it carried like a grey hound, in short I could have taken it for a wild dog, but for its walking or running which it jumped like a hare or deer…’ Joseph Banks says ‘What to like it to I could not tell, nothing certainly that I have seen at all resembles him.’ An early sketch of a ‘kanguru’. I could have spent hours here soaking up all the information. Sigh. That’s impossible with kids sometimes. Okay, most of the time!